Pentagon Says Russia's Advance Is Raging in Kharkhiv, Stalling in Kyiv

Russian military forces are intensifying bombardments as they close in on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv while reaching a standstill in efforts to take the capital of Kyiv, according to the Pentagon.

Since launching an invasion of Ukraine last week, Russia's military still hasn't captured the country's capital city despite deploying nearly all of the 150,000 troops it has amassed on the border, according to a Pentagon update Thursday. Meanwhile, Ukrainian cities in the northeast and south are seeing intense fighting as Russian troops advance.

Earlier this week, satellite images emerged showing a convoy estimated to be 40 miles long approaching Kyiv. But Russian forces have "stalled" across across northern Ukraine and are possibly facing "problems with logistics and sustainment" or are pausing to redirect their efforts, according to the Pentagon.

Destroyed Vehicles in Irpin, Ukraine
People walk past a destroyed Russian military vehicle at a frontline position Thursday in Irpin, Ukraine. Russia continues its assault on Ukraine's major cities, including the capital Kyiv, a week after launching a large-scale invasion of the country. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin still has access to "a lot of combat power" and could call up reserve troops, the Pentagon said. Meanwhile, Kyiv is under "increasing bombardment."

Russian forces are "just outside" of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, of 1.4 million about 300 miles from Kyiv, and are "very near" a bypass road, according to the Pentagon.

Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Wednesday that it had taken "taken full control" of Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine, according to the Russian TASS news agency.

The Pentagon on Thursday reiterated that it could not confirm Russian forces had taken the city but were moving closer to Mariupol, another city in Ukraine's south.

Igor Terekhov, mayor of Kharkiv, told CNN Wednesday that he believes Russia is "intentionally trying to eliminate" civilians, bombing residential areas and administrative buildings.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Wednesday that it had recorded 536 civilian casualties in Ukraine since February 24.

The office in a statement stressed that "the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects should be avoided in populated areas, due to the very high risks of indiscriminate and disproportionate impact on civilians."

The Pentagon confirmed that Russians are showing a "a willingness to hit civilian infrastructure on purpose," citing the rocket attack on a Kyiv TV tower that killed five civilians near Babi Yar, a Holocaust memorial site.

However, the Pentagon said it cannot confirm that Russia is using thermobaric fuel-air bombs, which suck in surrounding air before causing a shockwave and very large hot explosions. It also couldn't confirm Russia has used cluster munitions, bombs that contain smaller explosives that have been criticized for injuring civilians.